Education

Maurice Quiroga of PNC Bank believes the first five years of a child's life are critical in long-term development.
PNC Bank

Early childhood programs have become a focus for those trying to improve the educational and social development of preschoolers. Finding what works has also been a key component in the attempts to lessen the achievement gap and other challenges some students in underserved communities experience later in life.

Students talk about racial issues during a panel discussion at Ritenour High School on Feb. 25, 2015.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 2:55 p.m., Wed., Feb. 25)

Students from across the St. Louis area regrouped this morning as a follow-up to a first of its kind race summit last month.  

At the initial event, students voted on what they thought was the best solution to bridge racial divides in the St. Louis area. The winning idea was to create a sister-school program. Students from matched schools would temporarily "exchange" schools as a way to build relationships and understanding.   

Charles Pearson, seated, talks with Superintendent Ty McNichols.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Normandy school Superintendent Ty McNichols, who resigned last month, will continue earning the balance of his $180,000 annual salary through the end of June in exchange for serving as a consultant for the district.

File photo

(Updated at 8:17 p.m. with reaction from Normandy and its interim superintendent)

In unusually strong language, a St. Louis County judge has ruled that Normandy schools are unaccredited and students who live in the district have a right to transfer to whatever area accredited school district they want to attend.

teacher with two young children
U.S. Department of Education

Wednesday on “St. Louis on the Air,” we learned about a St. Louis Science Center program that helps teens learn science, technology, engineering and math skills. Ahead of that segment, we asked listeners about memorable STEM experiments, classes and learning moments. Here’s what they told us. (Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Schools' plan to turn around its lowest performing schools is starting to take root, but plenty of work remains. That was the message delivered to the district’s Special Administrative Board (SAB) by Superintendent Kelvin Adams on Wednesday evening.

“I’d say it’s about a seven or eight out of 10,” Adams said, when asked how schools are progressing. “Right now it’s preliminary.  We’re only about five months into this.”

St. Louis Science Center
St. Louis Science Center

Like most kids, Diamond Williams toyed with several potential careers. Cosmetology had potential. So did following in the footsteps of her father, a dialysis technician, but her squeamishness cut short those dreams. Instead, Williams is now an engineer, a career path she discovered through a St. Louis Science Center youth program.

Youth Exploring Science works with St. Louis teens to create projects centered around science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

Joseph Davis, the newly selected superintendent of Ferguson-Florissant, gives students a round of applause, saying that they are the reason he's here.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:00 p.m. to include details from Wednesday afternoon’s news conference.

Ferguson-Florissant school board president Rob Chabot officially introduced the district’s new superintendent Wednesday afternoon in front of a backdrop of Ferguson-Florissant students.

Mary Nelson
St. Louis Community College

In recent weeks, the Missouri Senate has considered the nomination of four lawyers to be members of the University Missouri Board of Curators, but only three of them won confirmation.

The fourth, Mary Nelson of St. Louis, was rejected by a committee vote. State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said that if she joined the board, that would mean that eight of nine curators – all but David Steward of St. Louis – would be lawyers. He said that would be too many members from one profession.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 29, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Continuing his push to build backing for stronger financial support from the state, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe said Friday that residents, industry and political leaders have to work together to make a convincing appeal.

“We’ve got to stop playing the blame game,” Wolfe told members of the UM Board of Curators in Columbia. “We’ve got to stop pointing fingers. We’ve got to stop looking in the rear-view mirror and start looking through the windshield.”

NathanReed / Flickr

Cheap living, a network of startup incubators and a couple of hometown success stories have raised St. Louis’ profile among investors looking to get in early on the next big thing.

Though much of the focus has been on financial services, the life sciences and agriculture, momentum is building in another field -- education. And even though plans are still being drawn up, an effort is underway to harness local startup energy toward improving classroom success.

At the same time, questions linger about what education should look like in the digital age.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:04 p.m. with more on the tuition debate:

Students at the University of Missouri will pay just 0.8 percent more in tuition and fees at the four-campus university system for the coming school year, but the school’s leaders say they need to get more money from the state so they can charge students less.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The new head of the appointed board in charge of Normandy schools says the board’s plan to search for a new superintendent is designed to find someone who can improve the district’s academic performance.

Andrea Terhune took over as chair of the Normandy Schools Collaborative’s Joint Executive Governing Board last month, when Superintendent Ty McNichols unexpectedly resigned and Charles Pearson stepped down as chair to become interim superintendent.

Eighth-grade communications arts teacher, Kate Berger, leads students through a classroom exercise at South City Preparatory
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

 

(Updated Feb. 18 with details on South City Prep's new location and the closing of Construction Careers Center High School.)

A stream of eighth graders flowed into Kate Berger’s classroom at South City Preparatory Academy.  College and university banners line classroom walls and hang from ceilings.           

“Find yourself,” the language arts teacher told students.  “Go to where you need to be.”

File photo

As one north St. Louis County school district begins its search for a new superintendent – its fourth leader in a little more than two years – its neighbor is about to decide who will replace a superintendent whose departure created a storm of controversy.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 29, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System is doing well, president Tim Wolfe said Thursday, but some extra cash wouldn’t hurt.

“The quantity of students that we have are at all-time highs: 77,000 students. The quality of the students, as measured by their ACT score, now averages 26, which also is an all-time high,” Wolfe told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. “The financial condition of the University of Missouri System is decent. Decent relative to our balancing the revenue and the expenses with the challenges that we have of keeping tuition low.”

Charles Pearson, seated, talks with Superintendent Ty McNichols.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As the Normandy Schools Collaborative begins the process of finding a replacement for Superintendent Ty McNichols, its board is finalizing details of a severance package and educators are wondering who might be available to take his place.

As local schools celebrate Catholic Schools Week, the new superintendent of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said the schools are successful because everyone works together.

Fred Pestello
Stephanie Zimmerman

Saint Louis University officials say the school will have more money to attract and retain African-American students and an increased budget for African-American studies under an agreement that ended a six-day sit-in on the campus in October.

Updating progress on what have become known as the Clock Tower Accords, SLU President Fred Pestello said Monday that since the 13-point agreement was reached with demonstrators who protested on campus after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, many campus groups have met to turn the pledges into reality.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon sits with school children from Marion Elementary School as they discuss the school's "Lead the Way," program in Overland, Missouri on January 22, 2015. Lead the Way is a project-based program that provides hands-on learning exp
Bill Greenblatt | UPI / UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon sat in the library of Marion Elementary School in the Ritenour School District as fifth graders learned about the robots they would build this semester.

The class is part of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a national nonprofit that uses hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The overwhelming number of Missouri schools with PLTW programs offer it only at the high school level. Nixon was at the school to promote his plan to expand this type of learning into 350 grade-school classrooms across the state.  

Courtesy Normandy School District

(Updated at 9:32 p.m. with Pearson quotes, resignation statement from McNichols)

Normandy school superintendent Ty McNichols resigned from his post Thursday night after the state-appointed board that runs the district made plans to begin a search for someone to serve in his job.

Charles Pearson, a retired educator who had been serving as chairman of the five-member Joint Executive Governing Board, will take over as interim superintendent. He resigned from the board and was replaced as board president by Andrea Terhune.

Normandie Golf Course in north St. Louis County has been saved, for at least 10 years, but some of the officials who had worried about its future aren’t completely at ease.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Washington University has rolled out a blueprint for making the highly regarded school more accessible for low-income students.

“For Washington University to take its place as one of the great institutions of this country, we have to make sure we’re doing our part to provide opportunity,” said Provost Holden Thorp. 

Thorp said the initiative will reduce the number of students who are not admitted because they can’t afford a tuition that will top $47,000 next fall.    

“We will be doing less of that in the future,” he said.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis says its second-semester enrollment drop won’t be as dire as first thought, but a hiring freeze for the campus remains in effect.

Teachers Kimberly Merrill, far left, and Catherine Moore, Home Works executive director Karen Kalish, and principal Cameron Coleman discuss the Home Works teacher home visit program with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 15, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Positive relationships between teachers, students and parents lead to success. That’s the idea behind Home Works’ teacher home visit program.

Teachers in the Home Works program attend two training session, then work in pairs to go to two home visits each year for each student. Twenty seven St. Louis-area schools are following the program: three early childhood centers, 17 elementary schools, six middle schools and two high schools, program founder Karen Kalish told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday.

St. Louis Police Department Detective Deandree Davis, far left, and Officer Darius Rutling, Karen Kalish and Woerner Elementary School principal Peggy Meyer discuss the Books and Badges program with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 15, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

After an uneventful police ride-along, Karen Kalish had an idea. She wanted to match police officers with young students who struggle with reading. For the past 12 years, Books and Badges has paired St. Louis police recruits and elementary school children.

After President Barack Obama announced a plan last week for two years of free tuition at community colleges, "St. Louis on the Air" asked its listeners to weigh in on the proposal.

President Barack Obama took to Facebook and Vine last week to announce his free community college proposal.

Tiffany Anderson appears before the state board of education in Jefferson City Tuesday.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated at 11:33 a.m. with testimony at board meeting:

Riding the crest of improvement on the state’s annual evaluation, Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson sees full accreditation and further gains in the future for the north St. Louis County district.

And Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon, whose district is now the only one in Missouri that is unaccredited, says his staff have laid the foundation for classroom success.   

President Barack Obama’s proposal to provide free community college tuition for some students who meet certain standards won praise from some educators, but skeptics wondered whether it was the best way for tax dollars to be spent on education.

Obama announced the proposal Friday during a visit to a community college in Knoxville, Tenn., a state with a plan that is similar to what the president is expected to announce in greater detail in his State of the Union address later this month.

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